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I keep up with brands all day, every day. And making these “brands to watch” lists is funny because you always get folks who are like, “you didn’t mention *insert super obscure, niche brand name!*” After all, I could’ve said ALD was on the come-up!
There are always more brands to monitor. More brands to prop up. More brands to watch grow. But the point of these lists isn’t to be rigid and definitive, the point is to spotlight brands that I feel an affinity for.
I’m excited about these brands for 2023, because of the products they make, the stories they tell, and the people who operate them. Each of these brands are stylistically unique.
So here’s my list. Read through it and (*bracing myself*) tell me who you would have added to this list.
And hell, maybe I’ll make a part two for this.
Location: New England, USA
What I love about them: If LL Bean and Nike ACG had a love child, Manresa would be the kid. Think I read that from one of Manresa’s customer reviews somewhere, and it’s brilliant and aptly describes the brand.
Mike, the owner, is stand-up; one of those rare designers who shows you behind-the-scenes of what his creation process looks like. I respect that, because a lot of designers opt for being cool and coy. But this appraoch makes you feel like you’re part of the journey. He doesn’t ride the trends, Mike just makes whatever he wants.
2. Bandit Running
Location: Brooklyn, USA
What I love about them: If you’re a runner, you probably know them by now. There are a lot of cool boi running brands on the market with fantastic art direction, but a lot of them feel too holy to connect with. Bandit is different. Their art and brand direction is honestly incredible, but they focus more creating connection through good content and true community.
You’ll see them posted up at marathons in Copenhagen, New York, or Berlin, throwing parties for their community. And they’ve only been selling running gear for less than a year, but it’s as if the brand has always been there. Watch Bandit go.
Location: Atlanta, GA
What I love about them: Matt Lambert was Sid Mashburn’s righthand man for years, and recently stepped away from selling Italian suits to create his own brand. Factors is earnest, an amalgamation of Matt’s personal interests—flair, beatup cars, undeniable funk, true leather, and rock music.
Ultimately, it’s refreshing to have a brand like Factors in the picture, infusing the best kind of 70s and rock aesthetic back into our wardrobes.
Location: Montreal, Canada
What I love about them: Ostrya feels like a more fun Arc’teryx. I don’t mean that hyperbolically; I just love the brand they’re building. It’s colorful, outdoor agnostic, stylish, and functional. Whether you’re skiing, hiking, climbing, or flexing, Ostrya is for everyone.
Plus, they’re Canadian, so you know they understand how to make shit that keeps you warm. One to watch this year.
5. Karu Research
What I love about them: Karu’s Instagram bio reads “Indian future vintage,” which is an incredible for a new brand. Karu (which means artisan) was founded in 2021 by Kartik Kumra, a college student from India, and it’s quickly become one of the most phenomenally refreshing brands in menswear.
Each garment comes from relationships Kartik has built with handloom weavers, hand embroidered, and natural dyers all over India. These artisans have passed down their expertise to family members each generation, and Kartik is the platform to showcase how beautiful Indian craftsmanship truly is.
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
What I love about them: Founded in 2015, there’s a maturity to what Kestin Hare is building with his brand. Having spent time working with greats like Nigel Cabourn and Margaret Howell, Kestin is taking it upon himself to tell the narrative of where he’s from. The fabrics and techniques are storied, but the shapes and sillouhettes are fashioned for the present consumer.
One of my favorite things about Kestin is its connectedness to tone and color, all of which is reflective of the motherland, Scotland.
The community aspect of Bandit is awesome. Tracksmith focused on growing their community as well. Very cool to see brands with this kind of connection to their consumers
Love Manresa, Mike makes incredible clothing and keeping the prices low is also pretty impressive. Check out Graziano and Gutierrez too, higher price point but beautiful hand-made workwear